At the beginning of every season, everyone scans the fixture list for the “big” fixtures. Since every team plays every other team twice, there’s no mystery about who a team will play, it’s more of a case of when it’ll happen. Games against putative title rivals late in the season always catch the eye, because of the chance that said games will actually decide the title, so you always look forward to seeing them come around.
Until this season.
Arsenal are a “title rival” only in the sense that they are a team that exists in the Premier League. They cannot mathematically win the title, and honestly they can’t really hope to do much but finish out the season with dignity intact. Tomorrow’s opponent, Manchester United, have a lot more to play for, though. They also can’t win the title, but they can finish in the top three and avoid the Champions League playoff round, and they can keep alive an unbeaten streak that stretches back to
wait for it
October 29th. OCTOBER 29TH. United haven’t lost a game since Chelsea beat them 4-0 on October 23; since then, it’s been 13 wins and 12 draws. It’s a testament to how good the Premier League is at the top that a 25 game unbeaten streak is only good for, currently, fifth place; those draws have been a bit costly, but this is still a team on a serious roll.
What do I want to see from this game? From Arsenal? Organization, shape, and a sense of urgency. Arsenal still have a chance to redeem something about this season, but that chance is fading fast, and if they don’t get points from this game, it’ll probably be gone for good.
Sunday, May 7, 2017
8AM PT/11AM ET/4PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London
Fourth Place Trophy Watch:
If Arsenal lose this game, the Fourth Place Trophy is pretty much gone, as they’ll be eight points back of Manchester United with four games to play. Everton could drop Arsenal to seventh place if they beat 18th place Swansea.
Granit Xhaka’s out, as is Lucas Perez. Otherwise the team is healthy.
Cech; Monreal, Gabriel, Holding; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin, Walcott; Özil, Alexis; Giroud
How to watch: